Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ironman New Zealand 2013: Race Report (Part 1)

Farewell/Welcome message?
Tapering workout: 1-hour indoor ride, and a short run. I had a sports massage the day before, so I was recovering from that session. A few weekly, deep-tissue, sports massages four weeks out from race-day, has served me well over the years.
IMNZ2012 race-towel below me.
Departure: I flew from Singapore via Singapore Airlines (big-case checked in as over-sized baggage). My SQ Elite Gold/Star Alliance allowed me an additional 20kg, so I am more than good to go. The external of my Sci-Con bike-case was marked with at least four, bold ‘FRAGILE” stickers, courtesy of check-in counter. I had a check-in luggage, and a hand-carry backpack that contained my helmet, pullover (stay warm in the plane), MacBook, and Garmin 310XT watch/charger/heart-rate monitor. Remember: Deflate all tires and tubes before checking your bike in.  
Declaration Form: New Zealand is strict about any form of wildlife, or remnants of soil entering the country. You are forbidden to introduce any plant and animal products. Declare sports items; ensure no soil on shoes, cleats, pedals, tyres, and wetsuit. If in doubt (however mild), openly declare on both entry-card and verbally. Better to play it honest and innocent, than to test your luck. Processed foods like sports gels, whey-protein, and other food supplements are best declared.
Before boarding: I took my dinner at the SQ/Kris Flyer Lounge, as I could hydrate myself fully, and control my flying-time (for rest, entertainment or sleep). I watched ‘Skyfall’ (which I enjoyed), and slept most of the way as we had a five-hour drive southwards to Lake Taupo, the following day.
Arrival: Auckland, New Zealand. Immigration was friendly, and custom clearance was smooth as ceramic bearings.
Transportation: Rental car from NZ RENTALS; pickup by company at airport. We paid for minimal insurance for 11 days. Do grab the AA map (to guide us down the major highway) and book of motels/hotels (heavy but useful for subsequent walk-in accommodations).
Total drive time: 270km or about five hours of driving at between 50-100kph; do not exceed speed limits or suffer the penalty of a speeding fine). You can overtake at an ‘Overtaking Lane’ only. It is interesting to observe the types of road-kill (carcasses of animals). If you have two drivers, it helps to switch; baring which, take at least two breaks (for a meal, and pee-stops).
Accommodation: All Seasons Motels Park Taupo ($110 per night, booked online). Got a cottage unit, with kitchen facilities. There is a queen-sized bed in the main hall, and a single bed in the other room. If you travel by JUCY (another car-rental company), you can hire the camper-van which is self-contained, and sleeps two) and park at the camper-van section for a nominal cost.
First priority: Shop for groceries (race-day breakfast/supper, comfort food, and water).
Priority before sleeping: A cup of coffee, and set up my bike. Hand-inflated my tyres with a small hand-pump (90-100psi for my Continental Competition tyres were adequate for racing). I also laid out my race-kit for all three disciplines, excluding liquids – attire, shoes, sports-nutrition, HRM, goggles, wetsuit, etc.
Overview: I slept early as my body-clock was five hours ahead of Singapore.
After-Thoughts: I would arrive one day earlier (i.e. Tuesday) the next time, to give myself more time for adjusting to the time, and having a more exact taper.

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